Action from the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship at Doha Bay yesterday. RIGHT: Sami Abu Shaikha of the QMSF (left) with Heat 4B winner Jon Zimmerman. PICTURES BY: KAMMUTTY VP/ CHRIS DENSLOW
DOHA: U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto’s Steve David and U-9 Jones Racing’s Jon Zimmerman clinched victories in the fourth set of heats at the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Doha Bay yesterday.
Despite the threat of violent winds, weather conditions improved markedly and Qatar Marine Sport Federation (QMSF) and H1 Unlimited officials were able to carry out a morning practice session and Heats 4A and 4B, much to the delight of the crowd who had gathered to watch the world’s fastest powerboats in action in Doha.
After winning his heat, a delighted Zimmerman said: “If someone told me that I was going to win two race heats this weekend I wouldn’t have believed them. Now bring on the final…”
Florida-based David had already clinched the 2012 H1 Unlimited National High Points Championship during the three pairs of heats on Thursday afternoon and attention in Heats 4A and 4B turned to the battle to qualify for the prestigious six-boat Oryx Cup UIM World Championship final tomorrow afternoon.
When the points scored during qualifying and the four heats were totalled for each driver, David, Zimmerman, Jimmy Shane, Tom Thompson, Brian Perkins and J Michael Kelly had done enough to make the six-boat final, but a final decision on whether Kelly had automatically made the final as the sixth ‘trailer’ boat was not made immediately.
Not only did Dave Villwock miss out on the final he won in 2010, but his misery was compounded when a fire aboard U-1 Spirit of Qatar forced the original Heat 4B to be re-run after a 45-minute delay and gave him no chance of getting closer to the runner-up in the National High Points Championship, Jimmy Shane.
“We have had a dream weekend so far and now we can concentrate on the final,” said David.
“We know that the Qatar boat is one of the fastest on the water and we know that they will be back at the next race to try and get revenge,” he added.
With the National High Points title already wrapped up during three glorious heats on Thursday afternoon, David had no pressure at the start of Heat 4A, where he lined up alongside the in-form Perkins, Kip Brown, Kelly and Mark Evans. David made the running from the start - which was under review by race officials - and the U-6 driver began to pull away from the pursuing Kelly, Brown, Perkins and Evans.
David continued to press home his advantage and the quintet held station to the chequered flag.
But Kelly was forced to run an extra lap for allegedly jumping the start and that dropped him from second to fifth and promoted Brown to the runner-up spot.
It was David’s fourth win in four starts, as he amassed a perfect score of 1,600 points from the Doha heats.
With U-1 Spirit of Qatar repaired, Villwock could set about making amends for a miserable Thursday on Doha Bay, when he lined up with Shane, Zimmerman, Thompson and Ryan Mallow in Heat 4B.
Qualifying for the final was impossible for the Washington State driver, who languished in 10th place in the weekend’s rankings.
The heat start was deemed legal and Villwock surged through the first turn and began to extend his lead down the back straight, as news filtered through from race officials that Shane had made a lane infringement and would be forced to run a penalty lap.
Villwock launched the U-1 into the turn in front of the pits, but he was carrying far too much speed at the same time as a gust of wind blew across Doha Bay.
The boat was launched into the air and crashed down heavily into the water. Villwock managed to stay in control, but he ground to a halt as a small fire started.
It was quickly put under control before massive damage was done to the U-1, but the race had already been red flagged with Zimmerman leading from Shane and both Thompson and Mallow struggling with engine problems.
Three boats had to be towed back to the pit area and the heat was delayed for 45 minutes while repairs were made.
Only three drivers made the re-run and Shane’s penalty lap carried over into the repeat of the heat.
He managed to overtake Zimmerman at the end of lap one and use clean water to his advantage and run the extra lap, but there was no pressure on Zimmerman to stop him taking the heat win and Thompson cruised round with a slowing boat to take second, with Shane finishing third.
Today’s race is provisionally scheduled to take place at 3pm at Doha Bay today.